Moroccan M’hanncha, Spiced Vegetables in a Pastry Casing

This looks a lot more complicated than it actually is.

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If there is ever a dish that I have struggled to photograph: it is this one right here. From the disasters I had rolling up pastry to the dilemma of how to make a blob of pastry look pretty: I’ve been through it all. The traditional m’hanncha spirals several times like a snake as you can see from the cookbook image, whilst mine looks more like a curled up sloth. However, I can assure you that for what my version of this dish lacks in aesthetics, it has in flavour.

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During my second attempt at this much beloved dish I miscalculated the amount of pastry I would need and let’s just say that the results left much more to be desired (see embarrassing photo below). Granted, the original recipe from Jamie Oliver had called for filo  pastry instead of puff pastry, I was clearly destined for failure. Nevertheless, this story is one of perseverance and you can tell from the other (less embarrassing) photos that I eventually prevailed.

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The combination of sweet dates and spicy veg works wonders and makes for an epic journey for your tastebuds. Everything is wrapped up in a crispy, flaky pastry crust and that just sends it right over the edge!

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Moroccan M’hanncha                                                                    Adapted from Jamie Oliver

Ingredients:

  • 1 and ½ cups of wild rice (can substitute quinoa, barley or brown rice)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 red onions, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 red peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dates, soaked and deseeded
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (can substitute dried apricots)
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (optional)

Method:

  1. Start by cooking the wild rice according to the packet instructions. In this case, 1 and ½ cups of wild rice translates to 2 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on. Allow to steam for 10 minutes before using.
  2. Whilst the rice is cooking, add the olive oil, chilli flakes, cumin seeds and coriander to a large frying pan on medium-low heat and cook for 30 seconds or until the spices are fragrant. Throw in the butternut, onions, garlic and red peppers and stir to coat in the spices. Cook the vegetables with the lid on for about 20 minutes, or until the butternut is fork tender. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Chop the dates finely add them to the vegetable pan with the cranberries and wild rice. Squeeze the lemon over the veg mix and stir to combine. Make sure to really mix everything together.
  4. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Dust a worktop with flour, you don’t want your pastry to be sticking to the counter! Roll out your puff pastry into a large rectangle that’s about 70cm × 30cm. Spread your filling in an even layer over the top of the pastry, leaving a ½ inch border. I recommend wetting your hands for the next part because we’re about to rolllllllll this up!
  5. Be careful with this part, as you’ve seen this can end in disaster. Carefully roll up the pastry into a long roll, being careful not to tear the pastry. As we are using puff pastry as opposed to the traditional filo roll, this is going to be a lot bulkier than the traditional m’hanncha. Curl the ends of the roll towards each other, if you can, try to get it to spiral like a snake. Th first time I made this, I was able to get 2 curls but the last time attempts haven’t been as successful…..
  6. Bake the pastry in the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Slice and serve with the vegetable broth if desired, enjoy!
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Roasted Vegetable Sheetpan Shawarma with Spinach Hummus

A flavour party in your mouth.

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Hello and welcome to the first recipe of 2018! Having survived my first year of college without a kitchen, I felt like I needed to take baby steps in the kitchen. You’d be surprised by how unsteady your hands can be when you haven’t handled a knife in ages.

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So here we are: right back at the basics. There’s nothing complicated here: just chopping some vegetables, making a marinade and handling a blender, surely I could get that right? If you want to go a step further, then you can make your own naan bread (which is precisely what I did) using this recipe.

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Quick rundown: you’ve got your brown sugar carrots, your curry roasted cauliflower and the creamy spinach hummus that ties it all together. This is a really weekday lunch idea, if you want you can roast some extra broccoli and have different variations of vegetables throughout the week! I can also see this as a post-workout meal, you’ve got to load up on all those healthy vegetables!

Roasted Vegetable Sheetpan Shawarma

Ingredients:

For the shawarma:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 5-6 medium carrots
  • 250g cauliflower, roughly chopped into florets
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 red onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, sliced in half
  • 4 pieces of naan bread or 4 pita pockets

For the spinach hummus: 

  • 1×400g can of tinned chickpeas
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • A handful of fresh parsley, torn

Method:

  1. Start by preparing the vegetables. In a small bowl, toss together the olive oil, brown sugar and cinnamon. Chop the carrots into sticks that are about an inch long. Toss the carrots and brown sugar mixture together, ensuring that the carrots are completely coated in the sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, throw together the vegetable oil, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and black pepper and stir to combine. Toss the cauliflower with this curry mixture and make sure that the cauliflower is completely coated in the mixture.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Lay the brown sugar carrots, curry cauliflower and sliced red onions in a single layer on a large sheet pan. Place the lemon halves on opposite ends of the sheetpan. Drizzle some olive oil over the vegetables and top with a crack of salt and pepper.
  4. Roast the vegetables in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft. Whilst the veg are in the oven, combine all the ingredients for the spinach hummus in a food processor and pulse for about 2 minutes. The texture should be smooth but slightly runny, closer to ricotta cheese.
  5. To assemble, spread the spinach hummus on the naan/pita and top with an assortment of the roasted vegetables. Squeeze some of the roasted lemon over the shawarma. Enjoy!

 

 

Crispy Curry Vegan Potato Pancakes

Because savoury pancakes beat sweet pancakes any day.


As much as I will always be a sweet tooth at heart, coriander beats chocolate in my book. Whilst we’re on the topic, what do you think about chilli infused chocolate? Is it the best of both worlds or an utter hit and miss?


This is a ridiculously easy snack recipe. It’s a variation of potato croquettes but with an Indian twist with the addition of the curry spices. If you’re shy of spicy food then feel free to either reduce the cayenne pepper added or serve with a dollop of yogurt on top! As much as I detest tomato sauce in every other context, I have to confess that it does compliment this particular dish.

Spicy Vegan Potato Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 large Russet potatoes, peeled
  • ¼ cup soy milk or any other plant based milk
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • ½ cup plain flour

Method

  1. Fill a large saucepan with boiling salted water. Boil the potatoes until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Pour the soy milk into the saucepan with the cool potatoes and mash until smooth.
  2. Add the mashed potatoes to a medium bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix until combined. Shape into 8 patties and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a large frying pan and allow to heat until almost smoking. Fry the patties until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm with tomato sauce, fresh parsley and fresh mint. Enjoy!

Broccoli & Lentil Curry

I honestly cannot understand people who hate broccoli.


Now hold on- give the poor vegetable a chance! Broccoli has been unfairly lumped with the most hated vegetables, amongst brussel sprouts, cauliflower and beetroot. All of these vegetables have redeemable qualities; except you beetroot, you’re absolutely hopeless.


I find that the reason why people hate these vegetables is often not because of the way the vegetable tastes but the way that it is prepared. Broccoli is often steamed until it becomes a mushy lump of green slime. I’m here to show you that broccoli doesn’t need to be steamed into submission, it can be thrown into a curry just before serving, left to soften and absorb the flavours of the curry and come out tasting fantastico! Don’t believe me, just give this recipe a try.

 

Broccoli & Lentil Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • a cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1×14 oz tin of coconut milk
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 200g chopped broccoli florets
  • 200g chopped green beans
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Optional for serving: chopped peanuts, fresh parsley, naan bread, jasmine rice, squeeze of lemon juice

Method

  1. Heat some olive oil in a large non-stick saucepan. When the oil is hot, add the onions and the cinnamon stick. Fry the onions on high until starting to turn golden brown.
  2. Add the curry paste and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes or until the tomato paste is starting to caramelise; you’ll be able to tell by the browning of the tomato paste on the edges and the smell of the curry. Slowly pour in the coconut milk, stirring whilst you do so. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the curry is too spicy then add more coconut milk.
  3. Bring the sauce to a boil before adding the lentils and reducing the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are cooked- they should be soft but not firm to the bite. Throw in the broccoli and green beans and stir to coat in the sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes. If you find that the curry is too thick for the broccoli then add ½ cup of water to loosen it up.
  4. Just before serving, stir the garam masala and lemon juice through the curry and season one last time with salt and pepper. Serve hot with some warm naan and jasmine rice- enjoy!

Easy Strawberry Vanilla Vegan Crepes

After the crazy first week of college that I’ve had, I could use a batch of these deliciously light crepes.


Hi! It’s been a while, I know. Quick update: I have since relocated to Philadelphia. Pennsylvania in the USA from Zimbabwe to start college at the University of Pennsylvania! How’s the first few weeks of college been? Insane, wild and fun to put it in a few words. Expect a blog post detailing my experiences to come soon!

Anyways, on to this recipe. I think that crepes are severely underrated and underappreciated. The French really had something going with this one. Crepes can be had as either a breakfast option or a dessert, but the best part of having crepes is that the basic recipe never changes but there is an infinite combination of crepe fillings. I just filled these with cacao macademia spread (a vegan alternative to Nutella) and fresh strawberries but you can go with whatever you like! I’ve previously used lemon curd, strawberry jam and even plain sugar. You can top them with powdered sugar, ice cream, custard, the limits go as far as your imagination!


Strawberry Vanilla Vegan Crepes 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 cups soy milk (or any other plant based milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp any neutral oil (I used coconut oil but vegetable oil would work too)
  • ½ cup strawberry jam or chocolate spread
  • 100g fresh strawberries, sliced in half

Method

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Stir together before pouring in the soy milk, vanilla essence and oil. Stir with a fork until just combined. Don’t worry about getting all the lumps out it’s okay if there are a few here and there. The batter should be very runny.
  2. Heat a large saucepan on high and brush with some oil. Try not to add to much oil to the pan otherwise the crepe batter will run with the oil. Use a ladle to pour the crepe batter in the saucepan. Swirl the pan around to spread the crepe batter all around the bottom of the pan. Cook until the edges of the crepe start to turn up, about 2 minutes, before turning over. Remove the warm crepe to a plate and store in a warm oven so that they don’t get cold. Repeat the process until you’ve used up all the crepe batter.
  3. Once you’ve cooked all the crepes, spread the lighter side of the crepes with some strawberry jam or chocolate spread. Fold the crepes into half and then into quarters before serving topped with the fresh strawberries. Enjoy!

Spicy Chickpea Veggie Burgers

I’ve been dreaming about the veggie burgers I had in Europe ever since I got back.


Black bean burgers, soy burgers, cauliflower burgers-ugh it’s like a vegan’s playground! Vegetarianism is pretty uncommon in Zimbabwe, so it’s incredibly difficult for me to find something to eat whenever we go out to dinner. So you can imagine my delight at finding that most European food establishments in fact have a separate menu for vegetarians/vegans. Even McDonald’s had a vegan menu. You heard me, MCFREAKINDONALDS STOCKED VEGGIE BIG MACS + VEGGIE MCNUGGETS. Absolute insanity.


On a brighter note, the supermarkets in Zimbabwe have recently started re-stocking vegan frozen foods, i.e. vegan chicken burgers, vegan nuggets and vegan sausages. These are incredible options for veggies who don’t always have the time to prepare their own burgers from scratch (I know I don’t). If you’re not big on the taste of commercially produced frozen food, then hey, this post is for you! Top tip: prepare these burgers in bulk, shape and freeze them to consume at a later date!


These burgers are packed with intense flavour, and are amped up with the addition of toppings. I’m a huge fan of loading burgers with as many toppings as possible, just look at these loaded burgers I made a couple of months ago. For these particular burgers I spread the toasted buns with some honey mustard sauce, topped with burger, followed by sliced tomato and fresh sprouts! Other alternatives include sliced avo, caramelised onions, crispy onions, an extra burger (cheeky) or even some good old tomato sauce. Make sure not to skip out on the sweet potato fries, they are heavenly! Or crack open a cold one with the boys on a warm summer afternoon with these burgers!


Spicy Chickpea Veggie Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1×14 oz tin of canned chickpeas or 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • ½ red or white onion, diced finely
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • ¼ cup plain flour (or gluten free flour)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or water if you want them oil-free), optional
  • For serving: 4 bread rolls (gluten free if desired), sliced tomato, sliced avocado, fresh sprouts, sweet potato fries

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Add the chickpeas to a large bowl. Use a fork to mash them as best you can, it’s okay if some of them are still whole, at least half should be mashed. Throw in the rest of the ingredients, except the olive oil, and use your hands to mix until the ingredients have been evenly distributed.
  2. Shape into 4 patties. If you’re finding the patties difficult to shape or they keep falling apart then add the olive oil (or water) and try again. You should be able to shape them easily after this.
  3. Lightly grease a rimless baking sheet and gently transfer the patties to the pan. Bake for 15 minutes before gently flipping and baking for another 7 minutes. The burgers should be golden brown and crispy on the outside. Enjoy on top of a freshly baked roll topped with tomato, avocado and sprouts!

 

Simple Couscous Tabbouleh

First new recipe of the new website! Woohoo!


A.k.a. what I’ve been eating everyday for lunch since I got back from Europe last week. It’s THAT good. This recipe has been swimming in the depths of my mind since we visited Rome about 3 weeks ago. There was an authentic Italian all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant about 500m down the road from the hostel we were staying at. So on a sunny Tuesday evening (it was 30°C, full sunshine at 7 pm, can you imagine?!) we paid a visit to this beautiful establishment. For €11 I got to enjoy a refreshing Mimosa, the scenic views of downtown Rome and all the delicious risotto, biscuits, pasta and bean salads as I could eat. How’s that for a bargain?



Believe me, there was a ridiculous number of items on offer. Pasta in tomato sauces, pasta in various pestos, pasta of all different shapes and sizes- I’m surprised I didn’t gain 2 jean sizes from just looking at it. There was one particular salad that had my tastebuds raving. A grain similar to orzo pasta, oodles of fresh herbs, juicy red tomatoes and a dressing to die for. Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, I was browsing recipes from different cultures and BAM, it was there.




Tabbouleh. The same life changing salad I had had in Rome. So of course I made it to relive a great memory. Then I made it again with a couple of tweaks to suit my taste. Then I made it again because I really enjoyed it- and you know what happens after that.


This salad makes the perfect weekday lunch, it will help you stay on track with your fitness goals and it’s also a fabulous addition to your Sunday lunch! Hold on, I think I’ve still got some leftovers in my fridge…..

Simple Couscous Tabbouleh

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry couscous
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • ½ cup finely diced cucumber
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley and fresh mint, finely chopped
  • a handful of dried apricots, chopped finely
  • a handful of chopped pecans
  • a handful of chopped sliced almonds

Method

  1. Add the dry couscous to a small Pyrex baking pan. Cover with 1 cup of boiling water. Add ½ tsp of salt and a drop of olive oil to the couscous. Stir well with a fork to combine. Cover the baking pan with aluminium foil and seal tightly. Let sit at room temperature or in a warm oven for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Make sure you’re happy with the texture- if too wet, leave it in uncovered a warm oven for another 5 minutes, if too dry then add a tablespoon of water and fluff again.
  2. Whilst the couscous is soaking, prepare the dressing. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic to a small jug and allow to sit at room temperature. Taste the dressing to make sure you’re happy with it, if it’s too bitter then you can add a teaspoon of warm honey to improve the flavour, though I usually don’t find this necessary.
  3. Once the couscous is done and you’re happy with the texture, transfer it to a salad bowl or the dish you’re going to serve it in. Top with the tomato, cucumber, onion, fresh herbs, dried apricots, pecans and almonds. Use a salad spinner or 2 forks to toss the tabbouleh and evenly distribute the veggies.
  4. Drizzle in the dressing when you’re ready to serve and briefly toss the tabbouleh again. Serve with hummus or add to your meze platter! Enjoy!